The season was nicknamed Robbin’ Season, referring to the Winter holidays when people steal in order to provide gifts for their families. Throughout this season, thievery has been a common element episode to episode. This has ranged from restaurant heists to muggings to shoplifting. This season of Atlanta has shown the diversity of reasons people steal: for fun, greed, family, etc.
The Robbin’ Season finale “Crabs in a Barrel” had a lot to live up to, such as the ten previous episodes of the season that have all been stellar in their own ways.
Also, it hasn’t even been a week since the hit music video for the Childish Gambino song “This is America” was released, starring Donald Glover and directed by Hiro Murai (two of the many forces behind Atlanta). On a surface level, the music video is about how people choose to have a good time, causing and/or ignoring the chaos that happens around them.
Of course, fans wondered how this theme would appear in the final chapter of Robbin’ Season. In fact, it has been prevalent throughout the season.
It’s within Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) who survives a murder attempt and never speaks about it again for the rest of the season. Did it even actually happen? One cannot be too sure about some things in a show like Atlanta. Though it is realistic for his character to deal with the effects internally rather than externally. One explanation is there’s no character development for Darius, for he’s the comic relief and wise one (the funniest and wittiest character in the show).
To be fair, Atlanta is not about the character Darius. This season has been about the relationship between upcoming rapper Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry) and his unqualified manager who is also his cousin Earn (Donald Glover). Earn is the living embodiment of this theme of ignorance from “This is America.”
He has neglected his daughter Lottie and his baby momma Val (Zazie Beetz) the entire series. Earn has also been more of a wound than an aid to Alfred’s career. It’s clear during “Crabs in a Barrel” that Alfred might finally fire him. Earn isn’t just a lackluster manager; he’s an even worse father.
This season he finally steps it up and doesn’t back down in “Crabs in a Barrel.” Earn tries to get Alfred a Black entertainment lawyer but nope, Alfred wants a Jewish lawyer due to the stereotype. Earn listens to his client and it is implied that he’s found a potential Jewish lawyer. Earn is convinced to go after this stereotype because of the “systemic reasons” that have led Jewish lawyers to have more connections than Black lawyers.
Meanwhile, he also helps Darius get a new passport for a flight that is less than a day away. The wins for Earn continue, for he’s also there for a parent-teacher conference for his daughter who the teacher admits is too smart for the underfunded public elementary school that she’s currently attending.
Earn and Val are glad that their kid is smart and want to be able to push her towards success by paying for private school. This means Earn cannot lose his job. This reality is also ironic and tragic because Earn will have to go on this Europe tour with Alfred, leaving his family in order to support them. Yet there’s the fear that Alfred will still fire him once they land in Europe. From Alfred’s perspective, it could be less bad to fire Earn if he gives his cousin the chance to see the world first.
Despite this pressure, Earn continues to not allow himself to fail. He also successfully arranges for Darius and Al to move out of their apartment, having to bribe the movers to speed it up.
The final challenge comes after making sure his crew makes it to the airport on time. At the TSA checkpoint, Earn finally slips up. The golden gun he received from the first episode of this season is still in his backpack. Like a crab in a barrel, Earn places the gun in someone else’s bag.
Earn, Alfred and Darius safely make it to the plane. Earn did what he had to do survive, symbolizing what the voiceless (especially Black people) must do in this country to survive. This is Atlanta. This is America.
On the plane, Alfred admits he witnessed Earn’s sly move and respects Earn for it. He continues, “You my family Earn. You the only one that knows what I’m about. I need that.” Earn ends the season still managing Alfred.
It also turns out that the manager of the tour’s headliner Clark County doesn’t make it aboard the plane. County claims the authorities took his manager for possessing a golden gun. Earn then reveals to Alfred that he placed the gun in County’s bag; therefore his manager took the fall for him. Like Earn, County decides to keep his career unblemished, even if it means losing his manager.
“Crabs in a Barrel” is an episode full of crabs in barrels. It perfectly closes Robbin’ Season of Atlanta, a season that has lacked clarity at times but never enjoyment. Hopefully, it isn’t too long before the trio returns from Europe to live it up for another season of Atlanta.